(The Root) — In addition to trophies and rings for their efforts, champions also get a cherry in the form of a customary White House visit. They get a tour and a visit with the commander in chief, adding another lifelong memory to the athletic exploits that made them No. 1.
For the second time in four years, the New York Giants took a trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and were honored for winning the Super Bowl. Coach Tom Coughlin used the occasion to poke Congress in the ribs, which drew some applause from President Obama.
The Giants were the epitome of teamwork last season, pulling together when their season was on the brink and supporting one another during the turnaround. Coughlin said he was proud of his players' unity and he wondered why there's so little in Washington.
"Offense, defense and special teams doing their job, each group having different objectives and motives but playing in harmony for each other for the good of everyone," Coughlin said Friday during his remarks on the South Lawn. "Wouldn't it be nice if Congress operated the same way?" A grinning Obama joined in as the crowd laughed and cheered.
We often don't follow the lessons we teach youngsters through sports, which might explain why some athletes lose sight en route to their riches and glory. At times we can see the same process at work in politicians, who might start out with the greater good in mind but slowly give in to self-interest and self-preservation as they climb the ladder.
But sports can bring out the little kids in us, and being at the White House can have that effect on superstar athletes. Players tweeted pictures from inside the White House and walked around wide-eyed, especially the ones who weren't on the team in 2008.
"It was crazy, man," receiver Victor Cruz said. "Just to be at the White House and meeting the president, it was just one of those experiences that I will never let go. [To see] all the different rooms, all the history that is in this room, to think that there were 43 other presidents that were in here that shared this building with Barack. It is just an amazing feeling to just tour this place and be in the same building as him."
Obama faced a lot of difficult challenges in 2008, once the shock and awe of his newly won position faded. The same is true of champions who hope to repeat; the Giants lost in the first round of the playoffs the year after winning the Super Bowl last time.
The similarity of their positions wasn't lost on Coughlin.
"We both have a goal to get back here next year," he said. "We have a lot of work to do."
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